Maui 2012: SUP Downwinding

Wow! What a great trip to Maui! It had been WAY too long since my last visit to the Garden Isle, with absolutely no legit excuse. With sufficient prompting from friends there who I hadn’t seen in a long time, along with the same from some good business associates whom I had yet to meet, I pulled the trigger and booked a flight.

I was joined by my older daughter, Erin and son in law, Rob, leaving behind my wife to her teaching job and my daughter Jodie to help hold down the fort at Big Winds. We were lucky enough to score a great spot at Camp One, with awesome windsurfing right off our lawn, very cool.

A couple of true highlights were the two big downwinders I enjoyed with my friend Bill Babcock. Bill lives for the Maui downwinders and he was kind enough to let Rob and me join him on a 10 mile run from Malaaea to Makena, on Maui’s South shore. It was fully cranking when we arrived at Malaaea, and unloading Bill’s two Unlimted SIC boards and one trusty 14′ Naish Glide was scary, but uneventful. Erin was a trooper and volunteered to drive down the coast to Makena and hang there till we arrived at the end of the run.

As soon as we launched, we were flying. The wind was a solid 30-40, with gusts hitting near 50. We were able to take almost a dead downwind tack, making the swell riding some of the best I’ve ever experienced. Long, long fast, smooth glides. So much fun!

Coming into a pod of whales in the middle of the bay was super cool. We all sat on our boards for a while, drifting while they rolled and frolicked 50 yards away. After we figured they had moved off, we stood back up and continued the run. Bill was following a little behind and witnessed a whale roll 10′ right behind Rob!

Two hours later, we arrived at Makena Landing, where Erin met us. We were all smiles…a memorable SUP experience in the books.

The following day Bill and I hooked up for my inaugural Maliko to Kahului downwinder. After hearing about this run for several years, I jumped at the opportunity when Bill offered to take me. We launched with a brisk 20 knot NE tradewind and a 5′ swell, pretty modest conditions as far as Malko runs go, but I wasn’t at all disappointed to have it mellow for my first one. Bill had already relayed stories of many runs that sounded pretty sketchy with huge open ocean swells breaking on the outer reefs. Small sounded just fine.

The Maliko run lives up to its reputation for awesome beauty and a good challenge. Even with a pretty mellow sea, the swells were well overhead and the bump on the water made for a serious leg workout. With the wind lightening a bit as we made our way down the coast, I found myself paddling pretty hard the entire run. But the spectacular scenery and the prospect of a rogue wave breaking out a bit beyond our line kept me alert to my surroundings. We arrived at the Canoe Hale at the Kahului Harbor some two hours later, having been in no particular rush to get it over with. With a nice atta boy from Bill, I felt initiated into some good company.


There were still a few hours of daylight and plenty of breeze when I got back to Camp One. Just in time for a sweet windsurfing session with Erin, Rob and the Quatro crew that came down from their shop in Haiku to join us. A really great day to wrap up our Maui visit!